Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Carnival of Natural Parenting: The Necessities!

Welcome to the February Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Essentials
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared the parenting essentials that they could not live without. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

This month's Carnival of Natural Parenting topic is "Parenting Essentials: I cannot imagine parenting without __________"
I was asked, "Do you have a natural parenting product that you can't live without? Is there a book, family secret, or song that has been crucial to your transition into the role of parent? Is it a friend who makes all the difference for you?"
I find the question strange, because to me, natural parenting is mostly about verbs and not nouns. It is about being and doing with and for your child(ren) and not about the accumulation of "stuff". Yes, my son has toys and books and clothes and gear. Yes, some of those things make our busy mobile lives easier and draw us closer as a family. But I find none of them absolutely "necessary".

Don't get me wrong: we love our Ergo baby carrier, and the books about gentle discipline or questioning vaccines. They help us, they do. I regularly check the board at mothering.com to give and ask advice of other attachment and natural parents. We sing our song this lovely lullaby almost every night.

Natural parenting is an important philosophy for us: we had a doll created for our son as a companion, to foster empathy, compassion, and social bonding. There was no question Rowan would be genitally intact. Often natural parenting means doing with less or none than saying yes to convention or the myriad plastic, battery operated, lack-of-imagination-building toys out on the market today.

 But at the end of the day, none of that "stuff" we use to reinforce our parenting style matters. They assist in the work, yes. They make life easier so we do not have to reinvent the wheel, but I would gladly reinvent the wheel for my son, anyway. And I bet that I am not alone in that sentiment.

If attachment/natural parenting as a movement did not yet exist, I know hundreds of mamas and papas who would create it. If there was not a name for the style of parenting that I do, I would still be doing it.

If there were not resources out there for me explaining the benefits of co-sleeping, I would still be doing it- because I follow my intuition as well as the lead of my son. My son is the one who told me he preferred sleeping next to me. My son is the one who asks to be held when he cries. My son is the one who preferred to eat chunks of whole foods rather than store-bought purees. Our children tell us so much without the use of words, if only we would listen and forget the agendas with which we entered parenthood.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Not Without Him — The love Starr at Taking Time shares with her husband is the foundation of her parenting.
  • I Cannot Imagine Parenting Without B(.)(.)bs — From an uneducated dreamer to a breastfeeding mother of a toddler, nursing has forever changed Kristy at Strings to Things's relationship with her daughter and her outlook on life.
  • Raising a Child in the Internet Village — When Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction has a question or concern about parenting, she turns to the Internet. What did parents do before Google?
  • Partner in Crime and ParentingBethy at Bounce Me to the Moon can't imagine parenting without her husband's sense of humor - he brings her laughter and love every day.)
  • I Make MilkPatti at Jazzy Mama can't imagine trying to mother her babies without her breasts, but she could do it if she had to.
  • New Perspectives Bring New BeginningsMJ at Wander Wonder Discover, who is a former authoritarian mamma, has gained perspective via parenting.
  • Time Out!Mrs. Green at Little Green Blog explores how time apart can increase your capacity to give unconditionally.
  • Unimaginable Without HimKristina at heyred designs is celebrating her amazing partner, without whom none of her parenting experience would be possible.
  • My Parenting NecessityClaire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl needs "me time" in order to be the Mama she wants to be.
  • Babywearing As a Way of LifeDarcel at The Mahogany Way talks about the benefits of babywearing in everyday life.
  • Parenting Partnership — Sometimes Abbie at Farmer's Daughter doesn't appreciate her husband enough, but she definitely couldn't imagine parenting without his help.
  • Parenting EssentialsMomma Jorje loves her parenting products, but she needs you even more.
  • My Parenting Must-Have: SupportJoella at Fine and Fair wrote a letter to her daughter about the role that support from friends and family plays in her mothering.
  • It's More Than Just Hair — Think doing hair is full of fluff? Too girly? Useless? Karli from Curly Hairdo Ideas used to think so too.
  • The Minimalist Parent — The parents at Living Peacefully with Children embrace a minimalist perspective when it comes to baby gear. A good sling is all they need.
  • Without My BreastsCharise at I Thought I Knew Mama can't imagine parenting without her breasts; here's why.
  • Loves Books, Loves PeopleSeonaid at the Practical Dilettante discovers that the library is a perfect fit for her family's needs.
  • An Ode to the Maya WrapRevMama's next child might be named Maya, because of her fondness for the sling.
  • Avoiding the Padded RoomPecky at Benny and Bex is here to testify that it takes a village to raise a child.
  • My parenting essentials, from Tivo to battery-operated monstrositiesLauren at Hobo Mama presents a list of parenting essentials you didn't even know you needed (and probably don't…).
  • Attachment Parenting Through Separation: It Makes It a Little BetterJessica at This Is Worthwhile talks about how she couldn't survive her separation without attachment parenting and the bond it's afforded her with her 3 year old son.
  • Parenting EssentialsDeb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares the principles she used to parent her children from infants to adults.
  • My Parenting Essentials — The things that are truly essential to Kim at In Desperate Need of Entertainment aren't things at all.
  • I'm No One Without My Sling — How baby carrying is essential to the parenting of Jessica Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama.
  • I Cannot Imagine Parenting Without...Isil at Smiling Like Sunshine talks about what she needs to raise her children.
  • February Carnival of Natural Parenting — Through her experiences over the last five and a half years, Casey at Love What Is has discovered her most important tool for parenting is using her instincts.
  • CNP: I Cannot Imagine Parenting Without __________.The Artsymama discloses the one thing that gave her back control of herself as a parent.
  • Laugh Until I Cry — Laughing with her sons keeps Acacia at Fingerpaint & Superheroes connected and grounded.
  • I Cannot Imagine Parenting WithoutLuschka at Diary of a First Child realizes what the one thing she can't imagine parenting without is, and it turns out it's not a thing after all.
  • It Takes Two — Here are a few of the reasons why Jenn at Adventures Down Under cannot imagine parenting without her fabulous husband.
  • Stopping to Listen — Though it wasn't easy at first, Knocked Up - Knocked Over cannot imagine parenting her daughter without listening first to what she is telling her.
  • The Essence of Parenting — There are many wonderful resources that make life easier for Michelle at the Parent Vortex to parent, but the essence is the relationship between parent and child.
  • What I Cannot Live WithoutSybil at Musings of a Milk Maker considers her computer to be a parenting lifeline.
  • True Blessings: White Noise and GrandparentsKat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment can't live without her white noise machine and the support of her parents.
  • The Necessities! — What "stuff" does a natural parent like Lily, aka Witch Mom really need? Not much, it turns out.
  • Mama Showed MeMama Mo at Attached at the Nip writes about how parenting wisdom is passed on by example.
  • Ode to the Loo — For Joni Rae at Tales of a Kitchen Witch, the bathroom is her safe place, where she can take a minute to calm down if she is feeling touched out.
  • Go, Mama. Go!Andrea!!! at Ella-Bean & Co. has been able to integrate her many roles through her get-up-and-go parenting essential, exercise!
  • My Other HalfBecky at Old New Legacy realizes what a relief it is to have her husband parent alongside her.
  • Grace, Love, and CoffeeMrsH at Fleeting Moments realizes that lifelines can take the form of the profound, or the mundane. Both are ok.
  • Supportive Spouse, Check! — There are so many parenting tools and gadgets that are superfluous, but the one essential, for Danielle at born.in.japan, has been her supportive spouse.
  • Why I'm a BabywearerMeredith at Becoming Mamas reflects on the ways babywearing has enhanced her mama baby relationship...and made life easier to boot.
  • It's Marvelous Out Here, Kiddo!Rachael at The Variegated Life can't imagine parenting in the big city without the marvels of Prospect Park to share with her Critter.
  • Yes, Thank YouAmy at Anktangle offers tips on how to ask for and accept help, an essential for successful parenting.
  • Parenting Essentials Checklist: Mom’s Inner Rebel and Her Kids’ VoicesOlivia at Write About Birth reflects on raising global citizens and saying no to societal norms.
  • Eco-Mama Online! — An Eco-Mama living in the mountains of a nature island, Terri at Child of the Nature Isle finds it essential to connect to nature and to connect online.
  • Sorry, We Just Sold the Last OneNev at The Adventures of Lime confesses she missed out the day they handed out patience.
  • LaughTashmica at The Mother Flippin' Blog reveals her super power, her talisman agains mean mommy.
  • My Priceless Parenting Resource — What do books, a magazine community, my mother and the local playgroup have in common? Lucy at Dreaming Aloud tells us...
  • The Gift of Shared TimeTree at Mom Grooves strives to experience the world from her daughter's perspective.
  • Follow the GigglesDionna at Code Name: Mama can’t live without the sound of her child’s giggles - come watch her video and you’ll agree!
  • Can I Mommy Without Boob?Emily at Crunchy(ish) Mama shares her fears about weaning and losing part of that the mother/child bond.


  1. Blessed Be! I was reading this post nodding my head the entire time. Before my daughter was born in August, I had no idea this way that I parent actually had a label. I just did what my body and intuition tell me needs to be done for my daughter, and that's that.

    Our Western culture has so many aspects to it that divorce ourselves from ourselves and our children, and that is just counter-intuitive to me. It's destructive.

    I'm with you: If what I did for my daughter didn't have a name, I'd still be doing it.

  2. I find it disheartening that so many parenting books direct parents to ignore following their instinct/intuition/their child's lead. I think that is one of the most uniting features about natural parenting! Thanks for sharing this month.

  3. This is absolutely beautiful and it really sums up how I want to parent my future children. It isn't about the 'things' you have, but how you do it. :)

  4. It's true. So much of what we do can be learned from our children. Thank you for this post!

  5. I couldn't agree more! I answered this question with: my husband, because I couldn't imagine NEEDING any stuff to be a parent.

  6. Yes, it IS about the verbs, isn't it? Excellent point :-)

  7. beautiful and thought provoking post - thank you sweet mama. I love how you are using your intuition and looking to your son to teach you too - that's true gentle and respectful parenting :)

  8. I so agree that authentic, attachment parenting is all about following insticts and doing what comes naturally. I come from a long line of worrying, neurotic people and trusting myself was definitely something I had to grow into. (I say was like it's past tense -- Ha! It's something that I struggle with every day.) I think it's so wonderful that you had the confidence from the beginning to parent from the heart!

  9. well said. i have often been asked what the essentials are and usually i respond with working boobs and a good blanket- everything else is an accessory :)

  10. Thanks so much everyone! I look forward to following the Carnival and reading your posts as well!


  11. Well said! Over the years I've learned to really trust my instincts when it comes to parenting.

  12. I agree. "Natural parenting" is something I just figured out by listening to my children. I've actually never read a parenting book. :)


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